Groundbreaking Tomorrow For Penn’s New College House At Hill Field

 

The main entrance, viewed from Woodland Walk near 34th Street | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

The main entrance, viewed from Woodland Walk near 34th Street | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Hope you’ve gotten your fix of flag football and ultimate frisbee at Hill Field, for starting tomorrow, the University of Pennsylvania open space will be no more. Or rather, it will be significantly reduced, as construction begins on New College House at Hill Field.

The 198,000 sq ft New College House will house 350 undergrads, and like Penn’s other college houses, will have a resident faculty master, a house dean, and two fellows. Now in their 15th year at Penn, the college house configuration differs from typical college dormitories, in that house deans serve as academic advisors and mentors; fellows are faculty or senior administration. As well, all of the houses offer programs, services, and social opportunities for residents, from standard academic advising to music lessons.

Philadelphia’s Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, of Apple Store fame globally and the Liberty Bell Center and forthcoming 15th & Walnut Cheesecake Factory locally, provides the design for the three-walled building that frames a central courtyard. The courtyard, called the Lifted Lawn, slopes a remaining portion of Hill Field’s grass lawn upward toward a plaza and dining pavilion.

New College House at Hill Field, anchored on the corner of 34th & Chestnut, opens outward toward Woodland Walk and has a long street wall along Chestnut Street that reaches toward Drexel’s Chestnut Square just across 33rd Street. The two projects and the services they provide represent the institutional evolution changing the face, and skyline, of University City.

View to Lifted Lawn along Woodland Walk | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

View to Lifted Lawn along Woodland Walk | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Profile of new dining pavilion | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Profile of new dining pavilion | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

New College House within the greater Penn context | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson" width="660" height="439" class="size-large wp-image-46686" /> View to Lifted Lawn along Woodland Walk | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

New College House within the greater Penn context | Rendering courtesy of University of Pennsylvania and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



12 Comments


  1. Wow. That’s a huge change.

  2. Slight fact correction: The college house system at Penn began in 1971 with the establishment of Van Pelt College House at 40th & Spruce. A bit more than 15 years ago.

    • Betty, that figure was taken directly from Penn’s press release:

      Penn’s College House system, begun 15 years ago, currently has 11 college house residences that form the dynamic shared communities within the larger Penn community. The houses serve as microcosms of the University’s intellectual variety and strengths and provide learning opportunities outside of the conventional classroom.

      “In 15 years, the College Houses have become enormously successful, and life in a college house has become a touchstone for generations of student experiences at Penn,” [Amy] Gutmann said.

  3. Betty is correct. I was a student at Penn in 1971 and remember their creation.

  4. So Penn is creating a new block long street wall on Chestnut at the edge of their campus? This seems irrational.

    Is there any explanation for why they didn’t go for a retail use like that on the 3400 block of Chestnut? Now there’s going to be a wall and a parking lot on that stretch.

    • The PennConnects 2.0 plan says there will be at least some street level retail. I’m not sure if they got removed or just aren’t mentioned.

  5. @Alon

    Unlike Drexel, UPenn does need additional income from retailers. Same cannot be said for our neighbor Drexel.

  6. I was hoping that they would build a project like this on this field. But are they putting retail fronting Chestnut? If not that would suck.

  7. Looks like another nice project for Upenn. Check out http://www.bergerproperties.org for some additional housing options that i am sure will be more affordable and still able to have some spending money left over.

  8. Fortunately, perhaps, the University of Minnesota maintains its own “hill field” called “The Knoll” across from Peik Hall on the main campus.

  9. Penn did inaugurate a small number of “college houses” in the early seventies, but only put the resources 9into making ALL residences college houses in 1998.

  10. This looks terrible for Chestnut St. Penn has always treated Chestnut as a back alley on the edge of its campus. This project – right at the intersection of the Penn and Drexel campuses – could have been a way to connect those campuses with a vibrant University City street-scape. But, no. Instead it’s just a big wall dividing the two campuses and further insulating Penn from Drexel. So much for weaving the campus into the urban fabric (not that Penn has ever cared about that, but still.) Chestnut could be a vibrant boulevard that ties together University City. This helps ensure that will never happen. It will continue as a huge highway that cuts through Uni City like a wound.

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